*Leading up to the NFL Combine and Draft, BaltimoreRavens.com is taking a look back at the success of 2008, and we need your help. In the second installment of Fave Five, we want to know what you think was the best Ravens pass completion last year? *
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(nominees are presented in chronological order)
1) Flacco Converts to Mason – Steelers 23 - Ravens 20 (OT), Week 4
The setup:The Ravens and Steelers battled in the first of three meetings between these AFC North rivals, and it was a perfect set up to the two slug-fests that followed it. The lead swung back and forth between both teams, and the Ravens found themselves down one touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
The payoff:Rookie quarterback Joe Flacco had already taken five sacks, but he wouldn't be brought down when it mattered most. Facing third-and-12 with 5:18 remaining in the game, Flacco eluded multiple Steelers rushers and found wideout Derrick Mason for a 35-yard gain. The Ravens went on to score a touchdown and knot the score, and even though Pittsburgh would eventually win in overtime, Flacco's poise in a hostile environment was prominently displayed.
He said:"In this game, you have to play 60 minutes of football," said Mason. "I'm not big into moral victories. You either win or you lose, point blank. I thought the momentum was going our way after halftime. We let them off the hook a few times, and then they swung the momentum back to their side."
2) Bombs Away for Flacco – Ravens 29 - Raiders 10, Week 8
The setup:Baltimore went into this midseason contest looking to get above the .500 mark, and the Oakland Raiders were a prime target. The Ravens were on top for the entire game with a suffocating defense leading the way. But, that also meant offensive coordinator Cam Cameron could open up his playbook.
The payoff:Leading 9-0 in the second quarter, the Ravens began a second-quarter drive at their own 3-yard line after an interception from cornerback Frank Walker deep in Baltimore territory. No matter. From his own 30-yard line, Flacco dropped back and calmly unleashed a 70-yard bomb to a wide-open Demetrius Williams. The pass not only showed Flacco's arm strength, it also demonstrated that Baltimore's coaching staff isn't afraid to let the rookie make plays for them.
He said:"I started inside, started scanning the field inside," Flacco said of Williams. "I told the O-linemen, that's their touchdown. They gave me so much time in there and I think the corner ended up jumping the seam, I think he ended up jumping onto Mark Clayton and leaving Demetrius out there wide open. Of course I was surprised a little bit, but that was a pretty exciting touchdown."
3) Joe the Receiver – Ravens 29 - Raiders 10, Week 8
The setup:Later in that Raiders win, the Ravens debuted what was playfully called the "Suggs Package," with Troy Smith lining up under center and Flacco splitting out wide. Smith caught the Raiders off guard by running up the middle and executing the option, but it was only setting up a more explosive play.
The payoff:To the delight of a capacity crowd at M&T Bank Stadium, Smith took the field in the third quarter. Smith took the snap and faked a run to draw the defense, as Flacco sprinted past the cornerback lined up across from him. The 6-foot-6 Flacco got open just enough for Smith to drop a floating 43-yarder into the rookie's outstretched hands.
He said: "We kind of just walked through it and just laid it out. I was basically standing there while I caught it," said Flacco. "Other than that, I didn't really work on it too much. I trusted myself that if they called it I would catch it, and I was hoping I would catch it. I didn't want to make a fool of myself. I ran out there, and saw everybody run to the right, and No. 57 [Ricky Brown] kind of started to bite that way, and then he ran out with me. I was just hoping Troy [Smith] was still going to throw it to me even though there was a guy kind of running out there with me. I saw him put it up and I was like, 'Alright Joe, you've got to go get it now.'"
4) Flacco Puts Mason Over the 10,000 Mark – Ravens 27 - Jaguars 7, Week 17
The setup:In their season finale, a must-win to continue on to the playoffs, the Ravens fell behind the Jacksonville Jaguars 7-3 in the first quarter. Baltimore seriously needed to answer the Jaguars if it wanted to take control of the game early.
The payoff:After Jacksonville scored a touchdown just before the opening period ended, Flacco and the Ravens began marching downfield. A field goal wouldn't cut it, but the drive nearly stalled in the red zone. On third-and-6, Flacco calmly dropped back and delivered a dart to wideout Derrick Mason, who caught the ball in traffic to become one of the few players in NFL history to surpass 10,000 receiving yards for his career.
He said:"It feels great," Mason said. "Not too many people get to 10,000 yards, not even many greats. You put yourself in an elite class when you eclipse 10,000 yards. Rice, Harrison, Carter, people like that. You put yourself in a class that not too many are in right now. But we've still got four games left, and I'll deal with the 10,000 yards after the season. I'll look back and realize how great it was."
5) Flacco to Heap Saves the Day – Ravens 13 - Titans 10, AFC Divisional Playoff
The setup:As the Tennessee Titans tied this brutally physical postseason matchup, the Ravens had one last shot at retaking the lead at LP Field. Following a field goal from Rob Bironas, Baltimore got the ball at its own 24 and set out to at least get within field goal range.
The payoff:The Ravens nearly didn't make it there, but for some late heroics from Flacco and tight end Todd Heap. On third-and-2, Flacco lined up in the shotgun and threw past two defenders to find Heap for 23 yards and a first down. It was a crucial play to keep the Ravens' game-winning drive alive.
He said:"It's the same as any other drive," Flacco casually stated. "We had Todd go up the seam and make a big play for us. We did a good job of getting into field goal range.